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Avrie and Phillip Powell, owners of Aww Shucks (Aww Shucks/Contributed)

A health-driven decision to eat a vegan diet helped inspire a Jefferson County food truck that specializes in roasted corn that’s punched up with flavorings and coatings, from rosemary and lemon to fiery red Takis chips.

After making the dietary change two years ago to eliminate animal-based food, Avrie Powell found she often had few options other than fried potatoes when dining out with her husband, Phillip.

“That gets a little old,” she says. “So, we came up with a concept that would allow everybody to get something that’s affordable, something that’s fresh, and to give people something that’s unique.”

That something was corn on the cob. And once the McCalla couple chose corn, the business practically named itself.

“The first thing we were thinking about was the shuck,” Avrie says. “And then it’s like, ‘Aww Shucks.’ It’s something we say in the South naturally.”

Operating since July 2019 from a trailer-mounted mobile kitchen, Aww Shucks sells non-GMO corn on the cob, locally-sourced when possible, with more than a dozen flavoring options. The husk is feathered back from the cob, creating a handle.

Top sellers include Mexican Street Corn with Cotija cheese and chili-lime seasoning, Garlic Herb Parmesan, Creamy Lemon Pepper, and buttery-spicy Buffalo Ranch.

Mexican Street Corn is $6 and the others are $5 each. Any cob can be made vegan with plant butter and non-dairy cheese, both house-made.

Takis, Buffalo Ranch, Garlic Herb Parmesan (Aww Shucks/Contributed)

Phillip, Aww Shucks’ cook and main vendor, roasts the corn at a commissary using a custom-built machine capable of cooking 400 ears an hour. Once on-site the cobs are kept warm on a roaster with rollers, and finished to order.

Cooking with the husk on helps retain moisture. Roasting caramelizes sugars in the corn, adding flavors that boiled corn could never produce, Phillip says.

Although a butter-only option is available, the cobs at Aww Shucks can get intricate. Veggie Garden includes carrot, tomato, celery, onion, and garlic, bound to the kernels by garlic butter and topped with two types of cheese.

Buffalo Lemon Pepper is coated with garlic butter, hit with Buffalo seasoning, topped with buffalo wing sauce, and decorated with squirts of creamy lemon-pepper sauce.

The Takis cob is the most unusual on the menu. Originating in Mexico, Takis is a brand of super-spicy corn chips that has become a viral trend in a TikTok food challenge. Aww Shucks grinds the chips and uses them to coat a buttered cob.

“The color is one of the things that attracts people,” Phillip says. “It’s very vibrant. We top it off with Sriracha (hot sauce), which gives it a little extra kick.”

The original plan called for using a grind from a certain orange-hued spicy cheese snack made by a national manufacturer, Avrie says. But it’s not vegan. Takis is.

“So, we said, ‘Hey let’s do this instead,’” she says. “And it makes for a beautiful picture.”

Avrie is partial to the Veggie Garden, amped up with some Sriracha. Asked his favorite, Phillip, ever the salesman (he sold cars for 10 years), says he likes them all before narrowing his list to Rosemary Lemon, Veggie Garden, and BBQ Ranch.

Aww Shucks’ regular route includes the Ross Bridge Food Truck Stop in Hoover, and downtown Birmingham including City Hall, the library, breweries, and Regions Field. Other locations vary. The Powells post a schedule Mondays on Instagram (@awwshucks2020).
Phillip Powell confidently believes Aww Shucks will blossom into a successful franchise.

“It’s an Alabama original,” he says. “Look for a lot of good things out of Aww Shucks.”